Parasitic crustaceans as vectors of viruses, with an emphasis on three penaeid viruses

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Parasitic crustaceans serve as both hosts and vectors of viruses as well as of parasites and other microbial pathogenic agents. Few of the presumably numerous associations are known, but many can be anticipated. Recently, branchiurans and gnathiid isopods have been documented to host helminths and blood parasites. Because the agents can be observed readily with a microscope, these are better recognized than are the smaller viral, bacterial, and fungal agents. Some agents are harmful to the host of the crustacean parasite and others are not. Viruses probably fit both these categories, since viruses that do not appear pathogenic are often seen in ultrastructural images from a range of invertebrate hosts, including crustaceans. Some viruses have been implicated in causing disease in the host, at least under appropriate conditions. For example, lymphocystis virus may possibly be transmitted to the dermis of its fish hosts by copepods and to the visceral organs by a cymothoid isopod. Similarly, argulid branchiurans seem to transmit the viral agent of spring viremia of carp as well as carp pox, and copepods have been implicated in transmitting infectious hematopoietic necrosis, infectious salmon anemia, and infectious pancreatic necrosis to salmon. Other viruses can be vectored to their hosts through an additional animal. We exposed three viruses, Taura syndrome virus (TSV), white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), and yellowhead virus (YHV), all of which cause mortalities in wild and cultured penaeid shrimps, to crustacean parasites on fish and crabs. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis, we show that TSV in the cyclopoid copepod Ergasilus manicatus on the gill filaments of the Gulf killifish, Fundulus grandis, the acorn barnacle Chelonibia patula on the carapace of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, and gooseneck barnacle Octolasmis muelleri on the gills of C. sapidus, can replicate for at least 2 weeks and establish what should be an infective dose. This result was additionally supported by positive in situ hybridization reactions. All three parasites are the first known non-penaeid hosts in which replication occurs. The mean log copy number of WSSV also suggested that replication occurred in E. manicatus. The mean log copy number of YHV gradually decreased in all three parasites and both hosts over the 2-week period. The vector relationships indicate an additional potential means of transmitting and disseminating the disease-causing agents to the highly susceptible and economically valuable penaeid shrimp hosts.

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Integrative and Comparative Biology





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